Fish Trap: Completed! Duwamish Revealed Grand Opening

The Fish Trap project is completed, thanks to the 4th & 5th graders of Andy’s class at Pathfinder K-8 School. They worked tirelessly in groups of three on the site, teaching each other the clove-hitch knot, measuring, tightening, and double-checking each other’s work. I cannot thank them enough for their focus and dedication!  As they walked back up the hill to school, I tied the remaining knots on the structure, cleaned up the sisal detritus, and went home, exhausted. 

lookuptrapWe were lucky to have Nicole Kistler, one of the art directors of the project, on-site to engage the students in several meaningful discussions about the other pieces made by Duwamish Revealed artists in T-107.  Also, friend and photographer Sherry Loesser stopped by to capture the students and me at work. The photos in this blog were taken by her. 

This Friday, June 5th from 7:00pm-10:00pm, is the grand opening of the Duwamish Revealed Project at The Estuary, 4651 Diagonal Ave. S. Seattle. It will be “an evening of industrial soundscapes and sculpture featuring Christian French’s massive shipping container sculpture Estuary, sound installations & performance by Klaas Hübner and Lysandre Coutu-Sauve, and contemporary cellist Lori Goldston.” Events on, in, and around the river are happening all summer long until Sept. 30th.  You can read all about them at:



Fish Trap: Day 2

The work continued on an overcast morning that soon cleared to sunshine and 70 degrees. When I arrived at T-107, a brown rabbit was sitting next to the sculpture, and an eagle was perched on a post in the Duwamish River directly across from me.  Soon herons, geese, crows, and some white water fowl came to the area between Kellog Island and the riverbank below us.  A tiny EPA boat with three people came by and collected a sample, presumably from the bottom of this shallow part of the river. This section of the river becomes a giant puddle at low tide.

I worked from the lower level of the scaffolding today, after placing some bamboo notched poles horizontally at the top to help keep the circular form. A couple came by and the man said, “That looks like a giant fish trap,” little did he know how he had made my day! The scaffolding is down, off site, and I am ready for the students to come help me continue from the mid-section to the base.


Fish Trap Day 1 on Site

scaffoldingday1The scaffolding is up, two towers, two stories high. A big thanks to Kenny Oakins for helping me get this bad boy up! I started weaving the very top section yesterday and am working my way down, splicing the sisal, tying to the bamboo, and carefully maneuvering around the planks at the top. While I work, herons swoop onto log jams in the Duwamish and seagulls chase eagles. Trains go by and the occasional person wanders through the park. The dichotomy of wildlife and industry is mind-blowing. Grateful to be doing this in the sunshine! Fishtraptop

Transporting bamboo to T-107 Site

After a few days of getting the bamboo poles ready for the project, which involved sawing them to length (17′), drilling them out from the bottom (3/8″), and reinforcing the bases with rope and bicycle inner tubes, I got to load them onto my friend’s van (thanks Johnsen’s) and make a slow journey with blinking hazard lights over the Spokane Street Bridge, also known as the West SeattleLow-Level Bridge. In no hurry, I got to stop and see this turn leaf bridge open when a boat sauntered by. This is probably the most elegant opening a bridge can have. Project starts tomorrow on the site. bamboodeckbamboovan

Fish Trap: 8th Grade Models

Here are some images of a fish trap model from the 8th grade class that is also working on this project. Some of them experimented with their own styles of wrapping. Theirs were  tight and very consistent weaves.  I’m impressed by how focused they were. This type of repetitiamiclassve craft work is seldom practiced at school, but so rewarding and calming. I could see students in the flow.


Fish Trap

This week the 4th and 5th grade students built models of native fish traps with cardboard, bamboo skewer sticks, rubber bands, and raffia.


Why make a model? “So you can work out the problems before you begin the real thing.” You might have figured out by now that we are going to build a giant, artistic impression of a fish trap that might have been used along the Duwamish River. We will stand it upright for all to see.

A Native weaving song was played in the classroom and under hushed voices, they began to concentrate on each loop. The weaving got better, and soon the models were hanging from the ceiling. Follow us to see what’s next!


Duwamish Revealed Project


This is the first of many blogposts about my project, one of numerous endeavors that is part of the Duwamish Revealed, a creative celebration acknowledging Seattle’s only river, the Duwamish (a project of ECOSS).

I will be chronicling my interaction with students and teachers from Pathfinder School, as well as the progression of the project (to be revealed in the next installment). The Duwamish Revealed celebration will take place from June 1 -Sept. 30th in the river, along the shores, and at various access points and historical locales near the river.  At our first meeting, students aged 9-14 were asked on a questionnaire: When you think about the Duwamish River, what words come to mind? These are their words, put loosely into categories.


pollution – polluted – dirty – disgusting – gross – trashy and murky – toxic –I see the waterways and how dark the water is a river with a lot of boats – industry – industrial – Georgetown – bridge – oil

Duwamish Native tribe – the tribe – tribes – the Duwamish Native American territory – Chief Sealth’s mom – Seattle – history – potlatch – stories -canoe – Native Americans – Native American river – long houses – culture – cultural-historical site

ecosystem – salmon – life – nature – habitat – clean – fish – pretty – beautiful – green – old -rocks-water

What words come to your mind?

Getting Students to Think About Jewelry in a Larger Context

While much jewelry-making falls into the craft category, a good amount of it isn’t wearable at all and bangs on the door of where art and sculpture meet. It is an art form that could have innumerable sub-categories–wearable, commemorative, decorative, functional, etc. Since many art-historians and anthropologists point to adornment in the form of jewelry as the first art, pre-dating those French cave paintings, I wanted to step outside of skill-building and ask my young students (10-14 years old), “Why do people wear jewelry?”
Here are some of the ideas they came up with: status, wealth, ward of spirits, protection, enhance style, look pretty, intimidate, show beliefs, to relate to a group, survival, functional need, marriage. Just reading this list conjures up all types of jewelry and people over a long period of time. Thinking about this broader topic informs us of why we want to create, and how we approach it.
Next week’s question: Is there an important piece of jewelry that has been handed down in your family? If so, what is the story behind it? And now some glimpses of student work…

We prepared our own forms,  brought in meaningful objects, and poured resin to embed

We prepared our own forms, brought in meaningful objects, and poured resin to embed

Student's riveted brooch, front side

Student’s riveted brooch, front side

Backside of riveted brooch, all cold-connected

Backside of riveted brooch, all cold-connected

Do Not Eat This Corn/Trunk Show at SAM



I love looking at these funny earrings I made years ago each fall as the harvesting season is upon us…


In an unrelated note:

Mark your calendars! I will be doing a trunk sale at Seattle Art Museum December 13, 2014. The term “trunk show” always makes me picture one of those cool, old-fashioned  trunks that people used to carry onto steam ships in the early 20th century, like the QE2.

I would love to find a modern version of one of those or even just an old one that did not smell like my grandmother’s attic….if you have any suggestions about this, let me know!

You could also answer the question: Why are they so reminiscent of coffins?


Arbor Jewels 66″ x 18″ x18″ each (approx.)

I never got around to posting the sculptures made from piano strings, jute, reclaimed chandelier crystals, and wire. This installation, entitled; Arbor Jewels is hanging suspended between these big leaf maples in Boeing Creek Park in Shoreline, WA and will be up through October 31st, one of the most auspicious days of the year for me.
Doing this type of larger, installation based work is a turning point for me….I hope to make more of this ilk in the future.